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Raybon-Tate v. Schofield

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 21, 2018

DERRICK SCHOFIELD et al., Defendants.



         Before the court are the plaintiff's Objection and supplemental Objection (Doc. Nos. 161, 164) to the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 160), recommending that the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 132) be granted and that this action be dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.

         As set forth herein, the court accepts the magistrate judge's recommended disposition and will grant the Motion for Summary Judgment and dismiss this case. All other pending motions will be denied as moot.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         It appears to be undisputed that the plaintiff filed a previous lawsuit in this court, Raybon-Tate v. Chapman, No. 1:14-cv-00100 (“Raybon-Tate I”) (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 6, 2014) (Compl., Doc. No. 1). Judge William J. Haynes of this court, now retired, held a hearing on October 31, 2014, in which he received testimony from the plaintiff about having been repeatedly assaulted by fellow inmates while housed at South Central Correctional Facility (“SCCF”) and about prison officials' failure and refusal to take any action to prevent further assaults. Based on the plaintiff's testimony at that hearing, Judge Haynes ordered that the plaintiff be placed at Charles Bass Correctional Complex (“CBCX”) pending further order of the court. Raybon-Tate I (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 31, 2014) (Order, Doc. No. 16). The plaintiff, pursuant to Judge Haynes' order, was transferred to CBCX sometime shortly after the October 31, 2014 Order was entered and was housed at CBCX at all times relevant to the present action.

         Judge Haynes also ordered that the transcript of the hearing be prepared and filed and that the Clerk send copies of the transcript (“Hearing Transcript”) to the Warden of SCCF, who was the defendant in that lawsuit, and to the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”). Raybon-Tate I (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2014) (Order, Doc. No. 17). During the hearing, the plaintiff specifically testified that Elbert Gleaves was one of the inmates at SCCF who had repeatedly assaulted him. See Raybon-Tate I (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 4, 2014) (Hr'g Tr., Doc. No. 20, at 6-7, 10).

         On January 22, 2015, while in a holding cell at the Davidson County Courthouse, the plaintiff was assaulted by Gleaves and another individual (the “January 2015 assault”).

         The plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit on March 30, 2015 against defendants Derrick Schofield, then the Commissioner of TDOC[1]; Tony Parker, then Assistant Commissioner of Prisons[2]; Stevenson Nixon as Deputy Warden of CBCX[3]; and Deborah Tomlin, then Institutional Investigator for CBCX. (Compl., Doc. No. 1.) In the verified Complaint, the plaintiff alleges that, pursuant to TDOC policies and guidelines, the TDOC defendants should have placed a “statewide T.D.O.C. incompatible” notation in his record immediately following the hearing before Judge Haynes, showing that he was incompatible with the inmates who had assaulted him. (Doc. No. 1, at 4-5.) He also alleges that they did not do so and that “they all refused [his] request for incompatibles to be put proper[ly] in the court [sic] to protect [his] life and safety. Which led up to [his] being sever[ely] assaulted once against by Mr. Elbert Gleaves, ” who was identified in the Hearing Transcript as one of the inmates who had repeatedly assaulted him at SCCF in June 2014. (Id. at 5.) He claims that, if the defendants had followed TDOC policy, he would never have come into contact with Gleaves while at the Davidson County Courthouse on January 22, 2015. He alleges that he suffered unspecified injuries from the January 22 assault that he feels have not been “properly checked & clear[ed].” (Id. at 6.) As of the date he filed the complaint on March 30, 2015, Gleaves and the others who had assaulted him still had not been entered into TDOC's computer system as incompatibles. (Id. at 5.)

         For relief, the plaintiff requests that the defendants be ordered to add “all [his] incompatibles . . . into the T.D.O.C. computer as statewide incompatibles” (id. at 5), that he be housed at the Lois M. Deberry Special Needs Facility for the remainder of his prison term, that he have “outside medical” examine him and provide physical therapy, and that he be awarded $3 million in damages and immediate release from prison.

         The defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment, supporting Memorandum, Statement of Undisputed Facts, and the Affidavits of Schofield, Parker, Nixon, and Tomlin, as well as those of Marcia Campey and Patricia Crockett, in April 2017. (Doc. Nos. 132-40.) In their Affidavits, the defendants expressly deny any personal knowledge of the plaintiff's allegations of repeated assaults at SCCF or his requests that the inmates responsible for those assaults be identified as “incompatible” with the plaintiff on TDOC's database until after the January 2015 assault. The plaintiff filed a Response opposing the motion, which also includes a response to the defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts. (Doc. No. 144.) Although the plaintiff denies many of the defendants' factual assertions, he did not supply his own affidavit or sworn statement to support his position.

         The magistrate judge filed his R&R on December 1, 2017. The magistrate judge states that he construes the Complaint as suing the defendants in their official capacity only (see Doc. No. 160, at 2, 15) but, without addressing the distinction, analyzes the claims as asserting individual capacity claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He recommends that the Motion for Summary Judgment be granted on the grounds that the facts set forth in the defendants' Affidavits establish that (1) defendants Schofield and Parker had no personal involvement or direct decision-making oversight in any of the decisions involving the plaintiff's placement or the designation of incompatibles, did not have knowledge of any grievances filed by the plaintiff, and had never received a copy of the Hearing Transcript and were not aware of the events that gave rise to the claims asserted in Raybon-Tate I; (2) defendant Nixon was not a defendant in the prior case, had no specific knowledge about it other than that it required that the plaintiff be housed at CBCX, had not received a copy of the Hearing Transcript, was not aware of immediate threats to the plaintiff's safety or of any reason to designate the plaintiff as incompatible with any other inmates, and, as warden, was not responsible for administering medical care; and (3) defendant Tomlin had no knowledge of the prior lawsuit, was not provided a copy of the Hearing Transcript, did not receive information suggesting that there was a risk to the plaintiff's safety prior to the January 22, 2015 assault, was not apprised that the plaintiff wanted incompatibles put on his record until sometime in March 2015, had no knowledge of the plaintiff's alleged injuries, and was not in a position to offer the plaintiff medical care.

         The plaintiff filed an Objection and supplemental Objection (Doc. Nos. 161, 164) to the R&R, asserting generally that he is in possession of evidence showing that Schofield and Parker did, in fact, receive copies of the Hearing Transcript, because he mailed them copies himself, and Judge Haynes ordered that a copy be mailed to the Commissioner. He also addresses factors extraneous to the claims in his Complaint, asserting that the defendants' actions regarding his housing and classification before and after the January 2015 assault are “fishy” (Doc. No. 161, at 2) and that all of the defendants were aware of his prior history of assaults at SCCF, because of the fact that it resulted in his extraordinary transfer to CBCX. He insists that his entire reason for filing this lawsuit is that, if the defendants had taken time to “properly follow their own policies, ” they would have realized that he was incompatible with inmate Gleaves and others and the January 2015 assault would never have occurred. (Id. at 3.) He specifically alleges that, pursuant to TDOC policy, “[i]f an inmate is charged with assaulting another inmate . . . [t]hose 2 individuals are immediately to be made incompatible upon incident.” (Id.) In other words, he insists, Tomlin and Nixon should, at the very least, have ensured that Gleaves and the other inmate who assaulted him in January 2015 were added to his “incompatibles” list without the plaintiff's having to take any further action. Instead, no action was taken until after the plaintiff filed this lawsuit.

         The plaintiff also protests the unfairness of the current proceedings, insisting that

[i]t's always going to be their word against mines. And just because I'm an indigent man with a criminal record and representing myself pro se and [they're] people with a good background and . . . paid for legal team (Attorneys). That makes their side of the story truthful. I don't think that's fair.

(Id. at 4.)

         Attached to the Objection are copies of numerous certified mail receipts showing that documents were mailed to Parker and Schofield on various dates, but these receipts are not accompanied by an ...

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